Author Topic: Play BIG: nice accessories, shame about the figures  (Read 579 times)

Online GrahamB

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Play BIG: nice accessories, shame about the figures
« on: May 19, 2020, 18:11:42 »
Love it or hate it, it is worth knowing what PlayBIG looks like, so you can decide what to do with it. If you have any PlayBIG parts (especially accessories) in your collection, why not post pictures of them here? I have started the ball rolling.

But first… what IS PlayBIG? (Skip this if you want, it’s a bit of history).

At that moment the ship suddenly stopped rocking and swaying, the engine pitch settled down to a gentle hum. 'Hey Ford.' said Zaphod, 'that sounds good. Have you worked out the controls on this boat?' 'No,' said Ford, 'I just stopped fiddling with them.' (With thanks to Douglas Adams)

Online GrahamB

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Re: Play BIG: nice accessories, shame about the figures
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2020, 18:12:29 »
A little information about PlayBIG:

PlayBIG logo from 1998


Between 1975 and 1998 (when large parts of the factory were destroyed by fire) the German toy firm BIG, based in Fürth (right next door to Nürnberg where Playmobil was -and still is- made) manufactured Play BIG. The range consisted of figures a bit like klickies, accessories, vehicles, etc. No doubt it was popular with some children at the time and it still seems to have a small following of adult collectors. As a Playmobil collector, I find the Play BIG figures frankly ugly and unappealing. But many of the accessories are nice, as are some of the vehicles.

PlayBIG was in competition with Playmobil. The similarities between the two toys led to the accusation that PlayBIG was copying geobra’s designs, but a federal court in Germany found that PlayBIG figures differed so much from Playmobil figures (as any child could have told them!) that there were insufficient grounds for regarding them as imitations (although regional and appeal courts had found in geobra’s favour before this). The oft-quoted judgement included the statement

“that PlayBIG figures have the look of a self-confident, athletic and aggressive young man, whereas Playmobil men have the appearance of a child- sweet and unsteady on his feet”

THEY clearly hadn’t played with the figures for long! The PlayBIG themes included modern soldiers, complete with weapons, something which geobra would never allow. In fact, many PlayBIG parts and themes pre-dated Playmobil ideas, so who copied whom?

Very often, PlayBIG parts and figures can be found in secondhand lots on eBay, often mixed in with Playmobil, sometimes even described as Playmobil. And not just on German eBay either, since Play BIG was marketed in the UK under the brand Busy Bodies by Mettoy Playcraft Ltd. (whose HQ was in Swansea, coincidentally only a stone’s throw from Marx Toys who marketed Playpeople under License from geobra from 1975-1980). Later, the moulds were sold to a South American or Mexican company, so examples may be found there too. And there were other brands which copied PlayBIG (e.g. Play Well in Hong Kong).
At that moment the ship suddenly stopped rocking and swaying, the engine pitch settled down to a gentle hum. 'Hey Ford.' said Zaphod, 'that sounds good. Have you worked out the controls on this boat?' 'No,' said Ford, 'I just stopped fiddling with them.' (With thanks to Douglas Adams)

Online GrahamB

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Re: Play BIG: nice accessories, shame about the figures
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2020, 18:13:22 »
Having bought quite a lot of second-hand Playmobil over the last few years, I have acquired a lot of ‘non-PM’ items, most of which I kept. Some of these items later turned out to be PM (see here for example) whilst others are obviously Lego, or from other manufacturers. ‘Made in China’ on a plastic part is a good clue that something isn’t PM (even though we know some PM is made in China). But many parts have remained unidentified.

I had my suspicions that some of my non-PM parts were PlayBIG parts (see here), but it was not until recently that I did a thorough search online of pictures of PlayBIG sets and identified many of my parts as being from such sets. Although PlayBIG figures are distinctive (and IMO horrid!), some of their accessories are quite like PM.

There is very little on the net showing PlayBIG parts in close-up and what I have identified as PlayBIG has mainly been from PlayBIG box pictures and eBay listing photos.

Two useful websites which show box pictures of PlayBIG are:
www.claudia-schott.de
www.collecting-toys.com

As it turned out, I have quite a lot of PlayBIG parts:



I thought it might be helpful to other PM collectors to post pictures of PlayBIG parts alongside the PM parts they resemble, to help with identifying them more easily. If you are a purist, you can then exclude PlayBIG parts from your collection. If, like me, you like some of the parts, you can at least understand their origin.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2020, 16:52:21 by GrahamB »
At that moment the ship suddenly stopped rocking and swaying, the engine pitch settled down to a gentle hum. 'Hey Ford.' said Zaphod, 'that sounds good. Have you worked out the controls on this boat?' 'No,' said Ford, 'I just stopped fiddling with them.' (With thanks to Douglas Adams)

Online GrahamB

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Re: Play BIG: nice accessories, shame about the figures
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2020, 18:14:42 »
First, the figures.

PlayBIG figures are superficially like Playmobil figures, but taller..


(that Playmobil figure never existed in a geobra set, by the way: feet in a different colour from the legs were never found with fixed-wrist arms)

…with separate legs…



…and different internal construction, with no ‘skeleton’, separate feet and a long neck which holds the figure together…





Detached feet are quite common




Some figures had reversible heads (not seen on PM figures until this one  in 2012.





One PlayBIG catalogue http://www.claudia-schott.de/PlayBig/PlayBigKatalog/Play-Big_Katalogseiten/play-big_katalogseiten_10.html shows 36 different facial expressions. Here are seven of them:



PlayBIG figures have a hole in the top of their head to which hairpieces can fit.




Hair pieces





In 1977, BIG brought out the PlayBIG2000 range. These figures had curved arms and a different torso (with holes to which clothes could be attached). My example has two right arms unfortunately.



 

edit: 2 more pictures added
« Last Edit: May 20, 2020, 18:01:46 by GrahamB »
At that moment the ship suddenly stopped rocking and swaying, the engine pitch settled down to a gentle hum. 'Hey Ford.' said Zaphod, 'that sounds good. Have you worked out the controls on this boat?' 'No,' said Ford, 'I just stopped fiddling with them.' (With thanks to Douglas Adams)

Online GrahamB

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Re: Play BIG: nice accessories, shame about the figures
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2020, 18:15:44 »
‘clothes’

 
 
Clothes in place

 

Hats

Most PlayBIG hats have a ‘pin’ or prong underneath which fits into a hole in the top of the hairpiece.





Left; PlayBIG hats. Morion grey, Morion chrome, bandana green, cap, cap with peak white, cap with peak black, safety helmet yellow.

Right; ‘equivalent’ Playmobil hats: Helmet, morion (Spanish) https://playmodb.org/cgi-bin/showpart.pl?partnum=30-28-1080 from 2007, Chrome Morion helmet from e.g. set 3291 of 1977, Headscarf, green  (this style in blue first appeared  in 1976 in set 3315x), cap, cap with peak white, cap with peak bue, safety helmet yellow

Other clothes

Cloak (unlike anything from PM) Shirt and tie (also available in blue) (white shirt front, black tie, red cloak from PM)
Indian neckwear (nothing similar in PM: two white lapel/collars and a red Indian neckpiece from PM))
Neck ruff (quite similar to the PM version)





 

Arm greaves

PlayBIG2000 on left, PM on right

 


« Last Edit: May 20, 2020, 18:00:45 by GrahamB »
At that moment the ship suddenly stopped rocking and swaying, the engine pitch settled down to a gentle hum. 'Hey Ford.' said Zaphod, 'that sounds good. Have you worked out the controls on this boat?' 'No,' said Ford, 'I just stopped fiddling with them.' (With thanks to Douglas Adams)

Online GrahamB

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Re: Play BIG: nice accessories, shame about the figures
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2020, 18:21:23 »
More accessories

Tools

Chrome hammers, 2 types, chrome wrench. PM hammer and wrench

 

 
More tools

awl, screwdriver, hacksaw, file, hammer, bowsaw, hammer, pincers, paint roller, circuit tester?, plastering trowel, float, oval bucket, spirit level, drill, circular saw.

PM equivalents to some of the above: screwdriver, ice-axe, bowsaw, hammer, tongs, paint roller, plastering trowel, float, bucket, spirit level, drill.




Knights

Table, bench, 2 crossbows (one with rubber band), arrow, 2 circular shields, great helm, sceptre, broadsword, morningstar

PM equivalents: Table, bench, crossbow, 2 arrows, 2 circular shields, great helm, sceptre, sabre, morningstar





Parts of the PlayBIG table



Crossbow with rubber band ready to fire


 
The chrome Great Helm with its chicken on top is one of the more striking of PlayBIG pieces.

 
 
Broadsword . The ornate handle on this sword is similar to the handle on the PlayBIG chrome goblets (which sadly, I don’t have). Sceptres (PlayBIG on left, PM on right)

 


Diving gear

Radio with handles (aerial missing), underwater camera, scuba gear (2 types of gas bottle), harpoon gun with rubber band and harpoon, leg loop for knife, knife, face masks, flipper

PM equivalents Battery with two handles, underwater camera, scuba gear (two types), diver’s knife, face mask, flipper.


Close-ups of some PlayBIG diving parts

 


PlayBIG chrome daggers come in 2 types (on left), PM knives in various colours on the right



Sports

Pommel horse, throwing hammer, Adidas suitcase. PM white suitcase on the right.




Firearms

Rifle (several other styles were produced), revolver, soldier’s collar pouches

PM: Rifle, revolver




Road workers

Road sign and base, toolbox, Road barrier (red and blue) with x-shaped supports (white and orange), road drill, plate compactor, bottle crate, shovel, pick-axe, rake

PM equivalents: Road sign, stand, road barrier and stands, toolbox, bottle crate, shovel, pick-axe, rake


Details of shovels, rakes and pickaxes (PlayBIG on left, PM on right). Crates and bottles
 

PlayBIG bottle on left, PM on right (early versions were green, white in UK Playpeople; later versions were translucent green or red)



Hospital

Stretcher, pouch on belt (belt broken), megaphone, arm-band, walkie-talkie, first aid kits, crutch

PM equivalents: Stretcher, megaphone, arm-band, walkie-talkie, firt aid kit, crutch


Detail of PlayBIG stretcher with legs.



Indians

Head-dress, collar (2 types- other designs were made), papoose, feathered shield, quiver, bucket, hatchet, holsters, tomahawks

PM equivalents: Head-dress, feathered shield, quiver, bucket with separate handle, hatchet, belt loop, tomahawk


The Indian shield has the PlayBIG logo on the front and a centre handle on the back
 
Papoose                             The tomahawks are very similar to PM version

 


Fire-fighting

Pumps and hose-reel, water pipe, standpipe with hose, spreader tool, hose connectors, nozzle, fire-axes, belt pouches, megaphone, eye protection, belt with loops, fire helmet, road drill, toolbox, extinguisher.

PM equivalents: Hose reel, fire hydrant, hose, hose connectors, nozzle, spray-head, belt, axes, megaphone, face-masks (2 types), fire helmet, toolbox, extinguishers (2 types)







May be PlayBIG

This part appears on some eBay listings of PlayBIG but I have not been able to find it on any box pictures. There is a PlayBIG pirate telescope (I don’t have one) but this is not the same. I have two chrome and a (later?) grey one.




At that moment the ship suddenly stopped rocking and swaying, the engine pitch settled down to a gentle hum. 'Hey Ford.' said Zaphod, 'that sounds good. Have you worked out the controls on this boat?' 'No,' said Ford, 'I just stopped fiddling with them.' (With thanks to Douglas Adams)

Offline playmofire

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Re: Play BIG: nice accessories, shame about the figures
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2020, 21:53:29 »
An excellent piece, Graham, and I guess there is more to come.  I have never seen the fire accessories before, although I know they did make a great looking Unimog based fire engine.  They also mad.e a police and ambulance vehicle on the same chassis.

Looking forward to more.
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Offline StJohn

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Re: Play BIG: nice accessories, shame about the figures
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2020, 00:17:12 »
Thank you so much for this, GrahamB! I love Play-BIG! :love:

Some minor reservations about the title, though. I don't have a problem at all with the figures, and enjoy the extra flexibility of them having separate legs. But the figures tend to fail in sturdiness, and the plastic quality isn't too great these days, many decades after the toys left the factory. Still, Play-BIG is great fun. I don't own too much of it, but hope to find the time soon to present the fabulous castle in these pages. Another superb Play-BIG item is the Viking ship, which unfortunately I don't possess. Perhaps somebody else can contribute it?

Now I want to draw your attention to the Play-BIG horse, which is a piece of art. There is just one sculpt, issued in different colours. The four legs move individually, and the head moves on the neck.


The middle part can be taken out and replaced by a saddle. With this, the horse doesn't look unnaturally thin without a rider.


The proportions are in my opinion better than those of the old-style Playmobil horse. Don't get me wrong, that's just as much a work of art, but of a different, sweeter character. Play-BIG has given us the "self-confident, athletic and aggressive" horse as well. :)


Thanks again for starting this topic!

Best wishes
StJohn

Offline Erik

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Re: Play BIG: nice accessories, shame about the figures
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2020, 12:44:57 »

The chrome Great Helm with its chicken on top is one of the more striking of PlayBIG pieces.

 
 

Nice post!
I must say, I have quite a few Play-Big sets "complete and boxed", and the chrome great helm doesn't have a "chicken on top", it's a falcon, but yours is sadly missing one of its wings.   ;)
The most valiant knights are made of German plastic!!!

Online GrahamB

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Re: Play BIG: nice accessories, shame about the figures
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2020, 17:05:57 »
 :-[ Sorry if I was a bit too critical of PlayBIG figures, StJohn. Thanks for posting the pictures of the horse- it's really rather fine, I must agree. And the removable piece to allow a saddle and rider to be fitted was a great idea!

Erik, you are quite correct, it's not a chicken (I was being humorous!). That rider in StJohn's picture has a bronze chicken falcon with both wings intact.

Sorry, playmofire, that's all the PlayBIG I have and (my wallet tells me) I am NOT collecting any more. Though I would like one of those horses. And they did several great vehicles...

At that moment the ship suddenly stopped rocking and swaying, the engine pitch settled down to a gentle hum. 'Hey Ford.' said Zaphod, 'that sounds good. Have you worked out the controls on this boat?' 'No,' said Ford, 'I just stopped fiddling with them.' (With thanks to Douglas Adams)